Royal Ups and Downs: Beating the Rays Edition

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The series that chronicles the highs and lows of the Royals roster, now with 100% more shutouts of the Devil Rays.

46-42 and in mid-series with the AL East leading fourth place Tampa Bay Rays is where the Kansas City Royals stand on the morning of July 8th, three weeks and a day from the vaunted trade deadline. After last night's victory, the Roys stand 3.5 games back of Detroit and 2.5 out of the second wild card spot. So, for now, they're still in the thick of things. Heck, they currently have a better record than the Blue Jays and Yankees (and the World Champion Red Sox), which is a great way to mock Blue Jays and Yankees fans right now if you happen to be an area with a few of them (not that I would mock people about their crappy baseball teams, you understand, but some meaner people would).

As we all know, KC is still in the race mainly thanks the deepity deepness of the Pitching Staff, so let's take a look at their Ups and Downs for the past couple weeks!

James Shields - Nope_medium

He hasn't been exactly himself for awhile now, so it was good to see him shut down the Rays. You all probably know the story by now, but Evan Longoria "accusing" his former teammate of having a "Devil Rays mentality" is a fun memory when the Rays are the team that's sunk so low that they might not climb back into contention this year. Nonetheless, his previous two starts were four RA efforts against Los Angeles and Minnesota, so here's a sideways thingy. Jake Odorizzi was the losing pitcher last night and Wil Myers has spontaneously combusted, so I declare the Trade Won.

But seriously, Big Name James has lost some strikeouts and had his home run rate rise a bit this year, so those are trends to keep an eye on as the Royals chase a playoff spot. It'll be hard to catch without Shields in top form, and he's old enough where it's fair to wonder how good "top form" is at this point.

Jason Vargas - Nope_medium

Got pasted by the the Angels, giving up six runs without making it out of the fifth or getting more than one strike three, then followed that up by shutting up the Twins over seven innings. Technically, the pasting was probably worse than the success against Minny, when you adjust for the Twinkies being awful, but Vargas has been a pretty stable plus in a year where Shields hasn't really taken off. Of course, he's still cruising on an 80% strand rate--his career number is 73%, but it's still been good returns through the midpoint of year one.

Jeremy Guthrie - Kablooey_medium

Magical Bat-Missing Guthrie sort of disappeared in his last two starts, which were on decent one the Angels and one terrible one against the Cleveland Indians (is that really still their name? Jeez). Generally speaking, a great way to earn a down arrow is to allow 23 baserunners in 10.2 innings of two starts. And so unto Guts, a little red must fall.

Danny Duffy - Nope_medium

Dodged a fair amount of bullets against Minnesota and Los Angeles, than couldn't keep up the routine while giving up six hits to Cleveland. In case this somehow escaped you, Duffy's establishing himself as a bit of flyball pitcher, which should continue to work in his favor as long as the Royals play more Gordon-Cain-Dyson than Anyone-Anyone-Ibanez. He'll have to take a step forward in efficiency to make more of an impact this year, but Duffy's held his own and that's fun to see.

Yordano Ventura - Nope_medium

I hate to give four out of five rotation members sideways thingies, but the performances were pretty even with expected results over the past two weeks. And it's one again worth saying that while most teams would be excited to have Danny Duffy as their top rotation prospect, We Have A Yordano And You Don't So Hahaha.

A couple things about Ventura, though, which are slightly concerning. First of all, with his stuff, it's hard to believe that he's only whiffed six or more hitters once since May 15th. Second of all, May 15th was also his last time with more K's than innings pitched. During that span, his strikeout rate is less than six per nine. I'm not the guy who does fancy, pages-long analysis of what's going wrong (or differently) for a pitcher, I just hand out funny-looking arrows. But this has been a pretty long adjustment period for Ventura at this stage.

Also, he went 8.1 against Cleveland last time out, which evens up the >5 inning start the previous time out.

Greg Holland - Up_medium

Back to being nigh-invincible-Greg-Holland, and the only downside is that none of my friends are stupid enough to drop him from their fantasy teams this year.

Aaron Crow - Nope_medium

Only three appearances in the last two weeks, so this is sort of the polar opposite of earlier in the year when Ned brought him in every three innings. So...lesson learned?

Wade Davis - Up_medium

One rocky performance in his last five? Six K's in less innings? Yawn. Expected. Carry on.

Kelvin Herrera - Up_medium

Herrera allowed a run in four appearances, striking out seven over that span. I like it when Kelvin Herrera smokes hitters, and I hope he continues to do so at a higher rate.

Bruce Chen - Nope_medium

I welcome Bruce back the only way I know how: with a weird blobby sidewaysy thingy. His start wasn't good, but he struck out eight. His relief appearance was one scoreless inning. Welcome back, Mr. Chen!

Francisely Bueno - Nope_medium

Didn't allow any runs, allowed a pretty good amount baserunners. Francisely Bueno, ladies and gents. Tell your friends about him, see how badly they mangle his name!

Michael Mariot - Nope_medium

The giraffe has intrigued various cultures, both ancient and modern, for its peculiar appearance, and has often been featured in paintings, books, and cartoons. It is classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Least Concern, but has been extirpated from many parts of its former range, and some subspecies are classified as Endangered. Nevertheless, giraffes are still found in numerous national parks and game reserves.

(via Wikipedia)

Others: Where have you gone, Tim Collins? Welcome to the 2014 Kansas City Royals, Scott Downs!

~

The Royals continue their quest against the Devil Rays tonight, with Vargas vs. Hellickson as the tilt. The third game of the series is tomorrow, and then it's another showdown against Detroit. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

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